The threat from the Islamic State (IS) or Dā’ish as they are commonly known as is looming large in the region. There have been sporadic reports of the presence of the Dā’ish flag or leaflets claiming responsibility for terror attacks in Pakistan but there is no official confirmation of their presence in Pakistan.
The recent accusation of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the Dā’ish has emerged in Afghanistan in the past three to four years under the watch of U.S. military and intelligence agencies is very ominous. Speaking to the TV Channel Russia Today in London, Karzai claimed that he has more than suspicions that U.S. bases in Afghanistan are used to aid the IS. He based his accusation on the daily reports he receives from the Afghan people that unmarked military helicopters supply the Dā’ish in many parts of Afghanistan.
President Hamid Karzai, who was once the darling of the Occident, especially the U.S. who had propped him as President for eight long years, later fell afoul of the his erstwhile benefactors and became their greatest critic. He had refused to endorse the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the U.S. enabling some NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan. It fell upon his successor Dr Ashraf Ghani to sign the BSA on the eve of the drawdown of NATO forces in December 2015. Thus Karzai’s accusations may be taken with a pinch of salt although Russia too has levelled similar accusations against the U.S.
Hamid Karzai has observed said that since 9/11 until the present day, there is more extremism in Afghanistan, despite billions of dollars having been spent there. The former Afghan President, who should be well informed, makes a basic observation that the Afghan people ask that if the U.S. came to Afghanistan to defeat extremism, “why do we have more of it today?”
There can be no doubts regarding Hamid Karzai’s patriotism when he declares that Afghans do not want their country to be bombed with huge, destructive weapons. They seek peace. Karzai made a morbid allegation that the use of MOAB (mother of all bombs) by the U.S. forces was an indication to North Korea to show off U.S. power, but it was an atrocity on the Afghan people.
Readers may recall that on April 13 this year the U.S. dropped one of its largest non-nuclear bombs on a tunnel complex reportedly used by the Dā’ish in eastern Afghanistan. It was the first time such a weapon had been used in battle.
It is ironic that reportedly, the top world intelligence agencies like RAW, CIA and MI6 are supporting Dā’ish in Afghanistan which has its impact on Pakistan too. While President Trump and his inner coterie of advisors continue reverberating the refrain of “Do More!” for Pakistan. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis are headed towards Islamabad to bid Pakistan to target the Haqqani network, who reportedly resides in safe havens in Pakistan. There are two three problems with this accusation. Firstly, the DG ISPR, in his detailed briefing to the media, denied that any safe havens for terrorists exist in Pakistan. Secondly, the U.S. admits that the Taliban control 50 percent of Afghan territory; in such a milieu, the Haqqani network does not require sanctuaries in Pakistan. Thirdly, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, during his recent official visit to the U.S. made a vital concession, when he offered Rex Tillerson to jointly hunt the Haqqani network if there was evidence that they were being sheltered in Pakistan. Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had made a similar recommendation to Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani, to jointly target the miscreants on either side of the Durand Line. This is a special consideration by Pakistan and does not merit any further demands of “Do More” by the U.S.
Perhaps the agenda of the U.S. should be viewed through the prism of Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis’ briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. opposes the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project since it runs through disputed territory. $56 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an important element of OBOR passes through Pakistan’s northern areas, which India claims is part of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir territory. Paradoxically, the OBOR and CPEC are development projects and aim to bring economic prosperity to the region including the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Contrast this with the Muslim population of Indian Occupied Kashmir, who are facing a reign of terror since 1947 and are currently being targeted pellet guns for raising slogans of freedom. According to international and independent human rights organisations, the incessant use of pellet guns has martyred more than 200 Kashmiris and blinded over 3,600 youth. Instead of taking cognisance of the brutality faced by Kashmiris under Indian subjugation, the U.S. begrudges the development of Jammu and Kashmir. Should one believe the conspiracy theorists that the U.S. is opposing the OBOR because China is sponsoring the mega project?
Why else would Secretary Mattis state that the US opposed the One Belt, One Road policy in principle because in a globalised world, there were many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating One Belt, One Road. Secretary Mattis warned: “But we should be under no illusions, there are areas where, also, strategically, we need to confront China where we think it’s unproductive — the direction they’re going in.”
Hamid Karzai’s home truths begin to make sense when perceived in the backdrop of India and the U.S. endeavouring to snoop into Balochistan in order to sabotage CPEC for which ingress would be needed by Dā’ish into Pakistan.
The trend of Dā’ish targeting young people is a global phenomenon that is likely to persist. According to a report, about 5000 westerners have travelled to Iraq and Syria (many via Turkey) to join Dā’ish. Of these, more than 500 have come from U.S., at least 1000 from UK and more than 3500 from France and rest of Europe (according to estimates from authorities in these countries).
What has Dā’ish actually done on ground, destroyed Iraq, Libya and Syria, badly damaging unity of Islamic World.
Pakistan has successfully flushed out the terrorism from its soil and there is no footprint of Dā’ish physically. The organisation has cantered itself in Afghanistan’s Northern Region, bordering with Pakistan. Pakistan has taken serious steps to strengthen the security and management of the Pak Afghan border. Dā’ish is using a different strategy i.e. targeting the educated youth of Pakistan through internet.